from: https://lapolicegear.com/blog/situation ... -of-there/
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: EIGHT SIGHTS YOU SHOULD GTFO OF THERE
Personal security is a vital skill for survival, and situational awareness plays a huge part in it. Situational awareness simply means that you’re aware of your surroundings and it’s more of a mindset than a learned skill. You can exercise situational awareness, but you really can’t practice it since it’s not a skill.
First, you must recognize that threats exist because, if you don’t, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid dangerous situations. Secondly, you need to take responsibility for your own security. Law enforcement can’t be everywhere every minute of the day, so you must be able to defend yourself. Finally, you need to trust your gut instinct or intuition. This element is crucial.
LEVELS OF HUMAN AWARENESS
Experts explain that there are five levels of awareness. Over time, people have used a variety of ways to describe them, such as Cooper’s Colors or a comparison with the different levels of attention we use when driving. We’ll compare the levels of human awareness to the levels of attention we use when driving.
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LEVEL 1 – NOT PAYING ATTENTION OR TUNED OUT
We often don’t pay attention when we’re deep in thought or familiar with an area. You may be daydreaming or dealing with your son and daughter fighting over a game in the backseat. Cell phone usage has significantly increased and causes a distraction. Some people claim that they don’t remember the route they traveled because they weren’t paying attention.
LEVEL 2 – DEFENSIVE DRIVING
This type of awareness is when you’re relaxed but watching out for possible hazards and watching other cars and drivers. Level 2 also means we need to stay in this mode and not slip into the first level of awareness. By practicing defensive driving, you can still look at the scenery and have a fun road trip, but you don’t get distracted.
LEVEL 3 – FOCUSED AWARENESS
An example of focused awareness would be driving in the snow or pouring rain. You need to keep both hands on the steering wheel and watch for erratic drivers. Your attention doesn’t wander, and you focus on the roadway. With focused awareness, you’re not on the phone or searching for something on the seat beside you.
However, this level of alertness is quite stressful and it exhausts you. Even a drive in familiar territory makes you extremely tired and demands extended concentration.
LEVEL 4 – OTHERWISE KNOWN AS HIGH ALERT
With this level of concentration, you get a rush of adrenaline. You may be watching a vehicle run a stop sign or stoplight and pull out in front of you, causing you to gasp or cuss out loud. At high alert, you can still function but remain in control. This awareness is the stage where the adrenaline rush sometimes pushes you through the event.
LEVEL 5 – EXTREME ALERT/COMATOSE
Once you reach level five, you can no longer act. You may freeze and be unable to respond to stimuli. You’re either petrified or unconscious. This level is a fight or flight level. Your brain may not be able to process information. You simply can’t act because of the physical response of your body to stress.
Many people explain that they feel like the situation is unreal or they’re in denial of what’s happening. Time seems to stop. Many victims of crime describe feeling this way during the criminal act.
THE KEY IS TO FIND THE CORRECT LEVEL OF AWARENESS TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION YOU'RE IN
The key is to find the correct level of awareness to deal with the situation you’re in. If you’re at home reading a book, you don’t need to be focused as much as you would when driving. Many people tune-out at the worst time because they have the mentality that they can’t become a victim. That way of thinking takes us back to one of the essential parts of situational awareness: recognizing that threats exist.
It’s difficult for your brain to transition between these mental states. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you could find yourself unable to react when a criminal catches you off-guard. Training helps this process, but it’s still difficult for extremely trained people to switch from not paying attention to high alert.
Remember that situational awareness doesn’t mean you have to be paranoid, as the high alert state can only be maintained so long. It’s not healthy to remain in a highly alert state for an extended period. So, relaxed awareness is an excellent state of mind to maintain regularly. It allows you to identify threats while still maintaining a healthy, fun life.
WHEN IT’S TIME TO FIGHT OR GTFO
Instructors of self-defense may teach you amazing defense moves, but many don’t instruct on the GTFO method. Many times you can avoid fights without ever using your personal protective gear. Now, relying on escaping dangerous situations is great, but don’t stop carrying your pepper spray or tactical flashlight. GTFO simply means trusting your gut instinct, remaining aware of your environment, and performing avoidance tactics.
Here are some examples of when it’s time to GTFO.
1. SUSPICIOUS VEHICLE PARKED BESIDE YOUR CAR, RUNNING IN A DARK, EMPTY PARKING LOT
Obviously, not every vehicle parked near yours in a dark parking lot is full of danger. However, if your car is the only one in the lot and a car is parked next to yours running, alerts should be chiming in your brain. Why is that vehicle parked so close to yours in an empty lot?
Many criminals stalk their victims from afar or may work in a partnership where one is walking behind you in the lot, and the other is waiting in the car. You may need to fight in this situation, but now is also an excellent time to GTFO. Run to a close public spot or well-lit area so you can get help or call for help. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. TWO GUYS ARE WEARING LONG COATS IN THE SUMMER
If you see two men wearing long coats in the summer, be wary and keep your distance. They may have weapons hidden and could have the intent to rob a person or business. Being aware of your environment and the people surrounding you allows you to detect potential threats. When it seems like something just isn’t right, GTFO.
3. WATCH ANIMALS AS WELL
Most of us truly love animals and feel sorry for the strays we see on the street. However, feral animals are dangerous. If the wild dog you’ve seen running around with a pack steps onto the sidewalk in front of you, it’s probably time to GTFO.
4. A SUSPICIOUS STREET CLOSING
Try to be aware of the legitimate street closings in your area. If you find yourself coming up on a street that shouldn’t be closed, find an alternate route. A situation like this is why it’s critical to always remain aware. Using focused or relaxed awareness allows you to process information better and react to the potential threat. All we can say is retreat, retreat, GTFO!
This event could be a set up for a robbery or carjacking. If you continue and run into a barricade, the next thing you know a car pulls up and blocks you in from behind. This situation is a bad one to be in and to try to maneuver your vehicle through or around. Use it as a weapon, if you need to, for an escape. In case of events like this one, always keep self-defense weapons in your car. A carjacking or robbery is a life or death situation.
5. A HOME INVASION
Sometimes you may be at home when crime comes to your door. A burglary occurs every 22.6 seconds, and, contrary to belief, many happen when the residents are home. So, how do you GTFO when someone targets your home? Always have an escape plan in place for your family.
A BURGLARY OCCURS EVERY 22.6 SECONDS, AND, CONTRARY TO BELIEF, MANY HAPPEN WHEN THE RESIDENTS ARE HOME
Make sure that you have multiple exits from every room because you never know where you’ll be when a crime occurs. Also, pick a location, such as a neighbor’s that you can’t see from your house, as a meeting point in case everyone gets split up. If even one person escapes, they can get help. Practice your escape plan so it becomes routine and easier for the family to remember.
6. THE HELPFUL CRIMINAL WHO WANTS TO CARRY YOUR GROCERIES WHEN YOU PULL IN THE DRIVEWAY
Another possible threat is “the helpful stranger.” It can happen anywhere, but imagine you get home with your groceries and pull in the garage when you notice a strange man approaching. What’s the correct response?
Get back in your vehicle, lock it, and close the garage door. Another option would be to close the garage door and get your self-defense weapon out and prepare to use it.
If you’re approaching your house in your vehicle and notice a strange person loitering in your yard, keep on driving and maybe circle the block. If someone is home, call them and have them come out to meet you in the yard. Make sure your baton, pepper spray, or whatever other self-protection tool you have is close, and get ready to use it.
7. A CAR FOLLOWS YOU WHILE YOU’RE RUNNING
You’re out for your morning jog when you notice a car following you. The best thing you can do is pull out your pepper spray, taser, or whatever you carry on your jogs for protection. We know you’re carrying something because you’re smart, right? Then GTFO by reversing direction and running back to safety.
If danger is imminent, run to the closest house in the neighborhood. What happens if you jog in a rural area or less public place? Well, you may have to confront your attacker briefly by spraying them with pepper spray as a diversion tactic so you can GTFO. If you jog off the beaten path, you may want to pick a more public place where there are more people around. Criminals are less likely to attack when someone else is watching.
8. THE NICE MAN WHO LOOKS LIKE HE NEEDS HELP GETTING SOMETHING IN HIS VAN
What happens if you live in an apartment complex and see a man struggling to load something into his big panel van and he asks for your help? Your instincts should be screaming on this one. Option one, you can tell him you’ll get your boyfriend to help him once you get to your apartment, and then GTFO. You can also get your pepper spray ready without being obvious. Tell him you can’t help him, and GTFO.
Situational awareness is a critical element of safety. Exercising awareness everywhere you go is the key to avoiding dangerous incidents and preventing yourself from becoming a victim. Here are some other safety tips to keep in mind:
-When making purchases, show as little cash as possible.
-Keep your head constantly swiveling.
-Try to always keep your back to the wall instead of the door of the room you’re in.
-Avoid dark parking lots if at all possible.
-It’s smarter to travel with a friend instead of alone.
-Always know where exits, fire extinguishers, cover, and possible weapons are.
-When in bars and restaurants, sit facing the entrance and exit.
-Leave enough room between vehicles so you don’t get boxed in.
-Pay attention to changes in sounds. Sometimes you can hear someone following you because of the sound change.
-When walking, remain aware of shadows and reflections on walls, doors, and opposite corners that may reveal someone is following you.
-It’s okay to be sneaky.
-Your vehicle is a weapon if need be.
-Engage people who don’t appear to belong or who seem to be acting strange with a short “how are you” or “hello” so you can gauge their intent.
Just because you remain aware no matter where you are, it doesn’t mean that you should stop carrying personal protection. Always carry a self-defense weapon or tool, no matter where you go, to ensure that if you need to fight, you’re prepared. Remaining aware of what’s going on around you, may just save your life.